Seizing “First-Time Opportunities”

NANDI Nandi1

Age: 22

Major: Studying Public Health and Spanish at University of Maryland

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Where have you traveled?

I lived in Costa Rica for four months and visited Panama, Brazil, Antigua. While my heart beats for international travel, I don’t neglect the treasures that lay domestically. I’ve been to about 12 states and counting. Outside looking in, it may seem that I’m always on the go but I like to take my time with my travels and really get to know a place as much as I can. I’m not traveling for the sake of travel or for the passport stamps. It’s truly for the people met, the late nights, missed flights, new and lost loves, breath taking sights, personal growth and experiences. I chose Costa Rica because my high school teacher who encouraged my Spanish development is Costariccense—so that was sort of to pay homage to someone who paved the way for me. I’m West Indian, so naturally the Caribbean countries will know me. As for Brazil, I had the opportunity to explore what Afro-Brazilians experience, and I’m always down for any Black and beautiful learning experience.

 

Cachoeira, Brazil

Cachoeira, Brazil

What inspired you to go abroad?

My parents always taught me that there is life outside the town you grow up in, no matter how much you love it. The world is a vast place. So moving from New York City to a southern town wherein people are born, live, and die was probably the driving force of my travels. Meeting people in high school and even college who classify the entirety of the Caribbean as “Jamaica” inspired my travels. I knew that I couldn’t change the perspectives of those people with mere words, but that by ensuring my worldview is progressing upward, I could show them the door leading out of their town and into the world. I read a lot, and it is said that a good book will take you to places you’ve never been. But that alone just wasn’t good enough for me. I needed to go to the places I was reading about, breathe the air, engage the people, and speak the language. All things considered, there are 196 countries, which allows me to safely assume that my personal mantra is true– life is not meant to be spent in one place. I grew up in NY, attended secondary school in SC, and moved to MD for undergrad. I didn’t know it then but those small life moves were setting me up to have an insatiable thirst for travel.

 

What has been your best experience? Worst experience?

My best experience this far was living in Costa Rica. Because of that experience, I can say I have roots in the country. I have friends, and family that I can always go back to visit. I love my host family and they love me; we’re friends on Facebook and whatsapp! They tell me they miss me and how much it meant to have me as their daughter for the time I was there. That means so much to me. The guys I met there were…the sweetest and most kind. I perfected my handling of the Spanish language and as a result am bilingual. There are schools there that I would love to have my children (when I have them) attend where I know they’ll get a worldly lens. I can dance a vast variety of Latin Dances impressively, my bests being bachata and merengue. Being able to see the close similarities between Latin and Caribbean culture, made me so happy. The lifestyle there suited me well; I started my days early, ate healthy, traveled domestically inexpensively, and worked out and loved every minute of it. Pura Vida! (Costa Rica’s motto, translating literally to ‘pure life’ but loosely as ‘full of life’, ‘real living’, ‘plenty of life’; used as a greeting or farewell.)

 

Worst Experience: I went to Panama for a week and didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I wanted. Why? One night our

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama

group went out for dinner at the start of the trip. We went to this awesome restaurant built on the mar that had swimming holes situated throughout the restaurant. Literally…the ocean was steps away from our table. After we ate and danced, we were all socializing and people decided to go swimming in their undies (as none of us had brought swimwear to dinner).They were doing backflips into the mar and having it up! My conservative friends from the program were discouraging me but I had to join—it was a first time opportunity! (I don’t believe in once in a lifetime.) So, I did a smooth front flip in (with my clothes on) swam about for a bit. I’m swimming around and decide to get out. At that precise moment I decided I was over it, I sliced the bottom of my foot on something crazy sharp in the water. Have no idea what it was. Could have been coral or a rusty pipe, who knows? All I know is I had this 2 inch gash, gushing blood, on my foot. These (cute) guys at the restaurant bandaged me up and I got dressed and prepared to head home. This guy from the program offers to carry me home. Cool. Worst mistake of my life. He was inebriated and drops me, and to add insult to injury I get glass stuck in my toe of my other foot. So I end up in the bathtub of the hotel, screaming as my friends play doctor and pull the glass out of my toe, while my other foot is on fire with pain. Our program coordinators take me to the hospital where thankfully I didn’t have to get a tetanus shot but was administered a painkiller injection to the culo (they love to give vaccinations in the backside in Latin America I learned). It hurt. I didn’t get to dance the night away with the cute guy at the bar, I missed a boat ride and seeing where Survivor was filmed, and was always last to everything–all because I couldn’t walk flat on my foot. -_- The WORST.

Now, I have to go back and re-do Panama and get to know it because I missed out on so much because of my lame foot (which is now fully healed).

 

How did you hear about these opportunities?

I frequent the study abroad site for UMD, just to see what I can finesse and milk from the university. But most of my travelling I come up with and plan on my own. I keep a running list of friends, family, and acquaintances that I have in various countries, cities, and states. This makes for less expensive travels as I’ll usually have a place to stay comfortably. Outside of housing, it’s always nice to have someone you know in an unknown place to look out for you and show you the gems of that particular place. As vacations/breaks approach in school, I refer to my list to see what move I would like to make and start coordinating.

People watching in Parque Central, Heredia, Costa Rica

People watching in Parque Central, Heredia, Costa Rica

How did you fund these opportunities?

I mostly save to fund my travel. Because I typically plan far in advanced, I start saving for the flight and lodging as soon as I can. I put a certain percentage of each paycheck from my job aside to go toward anything I want. I mean I don’t have many bills to pay, I’m not much of a shopaholic—what else should my money go into besides a rewarding and memorable travel experience? I read a quote once on the Humans of New York page that said “travel as much and as far as you can while you’re young, even if you have to borrow money to do it.” While non-conventional, I do if I have to. My family will give me what they can when I tell them I’m planning a trip and I do good deeds to “work” it off. I funded my Brazil study abroad trip with a crowd funding website, Gofundme.com. I shared that on every social network I have until I reached goal. I also look for scholarships and financial aid opportunities for study abroad. I take advantage of our international studies and diversity offices on campus for funding. I try to do a lot of travel as study abroad as well, because there is no cheaper and quality travel than when you’re in school! Yes there will be work, but what is the sense in traveling without learning? Being away from the US is relaxing and vacation enough, but I use my travel to learn something…anything.

 

Underground Atlanta, Georgia

Underground Atlanta, Georgia

What have you learned from your travels?

I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve learned to keep my travels private to an extent. Why? Because people have a tendency to live vicariously, instead of just doing what it is they desire. If I post my entire photo album from Costa Rica or my zip-lining video, yes it may encourage them to go and do what I have done but it may also encourage a sense of complacency! As I travel, people tell me to keep going because my 20s are the best times of my life. I’ve learned that my life is the best time of my life. I can do this for as long as I want. Married? I’ll take my husband. Children? They’ll learn Spanish and come too. Life commitments shouldn’t hold me down and discourage learning and horizon expansion. Honestly, to go into detail about other cultures would take another interview but there is beauty and mystique in EVERY culture. I’m a picky eater, I’ve found. Willing to try a lot but very picky. My street smarts have amped up—getting your freshly cashed wallet stolen at a police station of all places will teach you a lot. In regards to people…wow- people are just people. It takes meeting and living with people that I’m unaccustomed to dispel preconceived notions, stereotypes, and judgments. Traveling is the one thing that tests my patience to the max…but I’m able to remain level-headed. I’ve become confident in my travel knowledge and abilities to where I can book trips for others and lead groups. I’ve learned to take the time to myself…observe, people watch, appreciate nature, etc.

 

Where do you plan to visit in the future?

I’m very interested in Latin American and Caribbean people and culture so I intend to travel to every country

Swimming with Stingrays, Stingray City, Antigua & Barbuda

Swimming with Stingrays, Stingray City, Antigua & Barbuda

classified as Latin or Caribbean. I know I want to go to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Egypt. I have to go to Australia, because it’s trill– it’s the only continent country. I’m not closed to anything, as long as there is a culture to learn about—I’m down for it. As for up and comings on my calendar, I have Antigua this July, next October–Miami for Carnival, next winter Ghana, Spring Break 2015 –Paris, Summer 2015 Barbados for CropOver, and February 2015–Trinidad and Tobago. I’m always looking for dedicated travel groups and partners so if you’re up for it hit my social media page and we’ll make something happen!

 

Want to see more of Nandi? Follow her on twitter and instagram @TheNandiLion, friend her on facebook as Debz Nandi or email her at thenandilion@gmail.com!

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Just Want to Get Up and Go!

BELLABella 1

 

Age: 21

Major: I am a senior at Wagner College in NY studying Education and Spanish with two minors (english and philosophy).

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Where have you traveled?

Well I have traveled around the US to different places such as San Antonio, Texas, Seattle, Washington, Washington DC, Florida, Philly, Boston, Chicago, etc. but my abroad travels have been to Canada, Mexico, England, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Haiti.

What inspired you to go abroad?

WELL I never really knew I had a love for traveling until I went on my third trip abroad by myself to London, England. The trips before were just fun little vacations with my family but I had a friend who was studying to get his PhD in Oxford and he asked me to visit him because he was very lonely. I begged and begged my parents for the longest time (they actually thought it was a joke that I asked). They finally allowed it and I was overjoyed. It was scary leaving by myself like that for a little over a week but I had been away at school for about a year now and was a little accustomed to it. London opened my eyes to a whole new world (sorry for that copyright Aladdin). Just being in front of Big Ben made me want to see every major monument I could. What can I say, I fell in love.

So after that I decided that I wanted to live somewhere new for an extended period of time and that’s when I looked into studying abroad. I really didn’t pick Costa Rica for any reason other than it was the cheapest place to go haha. I was actually quite ignorant and didn’t even know about it as a country…embarrassing. So my best friend and I decided to go together and man did we have an amazing time. While in Costa Rica we were fortunate enough to go on an excursion to Nicaragua for a few days and then spend our Spring Break in the ACTUAL Panama City. We thought it was funny because everyone wants to spend break in Panama City, Florida and we were in the actual Panama City. When I returned from Costa Rica I diagnosed myself with “Post Travelers Depression” haha. It was the worst…I just wanted to get up and go. Anywhere! Everywhere!

Bella 3

Around January or February of last year I got an email talking about the Military Extension Internship which allowed you to intern on a military base and work at the youth center there. Of course I was hooked, being a military brat myself, so I applied right away. I was awarded the internship and was lucky enough to be selected as one of the four other interns who were chosen to go abroad instead of stay on a base in the States. I was so pumped I could hardly wait. I think my mom and dad really inspired me for that one because I would have never thought to apply to work on a military base if I didn’t grow up around it and already understand the surroundings.

Haiti was inspired by my want to go to places that no one would think to go. I also wanted to go on a trip where the sole purpose was to help people. It was truly amazing.

 

 What has been your best experience? Worst experience?

It is hard for me to pick my best experience because all of them were so different and life changing in multiple ways. I will say that the experience that changed me the most as a person would be my mission trip to Haiti. Going from a first world country to a third world country is a truly humbling experience. There wasn’t a day I didn’t reflect on my surroundings and just break down from it. But what really got to me was the conditions these children were living in…many without families or clean clothes…and the smiles that they had everyday. It made me really rethink the way I go about my day to day activities and the attitude I put into it. Those kids taught me way more than I could have ever taught them in that short week. Living simply is all people really need. America really has an excess of material that could be cut down to make things so much easier.Bella 2

Some bad situations that I had were mostly in Costa Rica. I got very sick at one point and had to be hospitalized. It was really scary because my family wasn’t with me and the doctor was speaking in a language that I didn’t quite know at that time. I was very lucky to have my best friend from back home with me so she comforted me a little. I also wasn’t looking and  fell down a big hole (there are HUGE potholes in the streets of costa rica…its ridiculous) and sprained my ankle. I just had to laugh at that one though haha. Then, I found out that I am allergic to red ant bites because I couldn’t walk for a few days due to my foot inflaming from a few ant bites. Lastly, I got over $400 dollars of merchandise and cash stolen from me in a hostel. I wouldn’t call them bad experiences…I would just call them experiences because…well…I lived didn’t I? 🙂

How did you hear about these opportunities?
Well I heard about Study Abroad through my spanish class I was taking. It is also a requirement for language majors to study in a country where their language is taught so I didn’t really have a choice haha. I actually heard about the Spain opportunity a few days before the application was due and was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get that application done. That was right around the time of a major breakup of mine and I knew I needed this opportunity to just get away from everything. I was fortunate enough to get it! While in Spain I made friends with a family who loved to travel and they took me everywhere with them! Again I was quite lucky because without them I wouldn’t have been able to go to many of the places that I did. Haiti was actually an accident trip. I was signed up to go to Israel through a course that I’m taking at school and it got cancelled because of lack of people SO i quickly looked at different extended spring break trips that my school offered and signed up at the last second.

Bella 4How did you fund these opportunities?

Costa Rica was actually very difficult to fund even though it should have been easy. You see, my mother awarded me her Post GI Bill from the military so it pays for most of my college education. We thought that it would pay for studying abroad as well but there were lots of paper work issues and I’m actually still to this day confused on how Costa Rica was paid for haha. Spain was an all expense paid internship. They paid for my flight to orientation in San Antonio, my flight to and from Spain, and awarded me a stipend of $1,500 every other week. Long story short I made BANK last summer haha. My parents made sure I saved some of it instead of go crazy like I probably would have. Haiti I paid for all on my own…I was kind of proud of that 🙂 It was $600 for everything! It was really a great deal.

What have you learned from your travels?

I have really learned to be by myself and what that entails. Its helped me to find myself and learn to love that person. I’ve learned to not judge ANYTHING before you try it (i.e. foods, zip lining, 2 second showers, etc). Most of all I’ve learned that this world is full of amazing and inspirational people. I’ve learned to not complain, for someone out there has it sooooo much worse than me. Those guy troubles I was having, that flat tire I got, those shoes I couldn’t buy…thats nothing compared to the struggles that some go through on a day to day basis and THAT has humbled me.

Where do you plan to visit in the future?
My number one bucket list place is INDIA!!! I am trying to plan a trip there this summer. I am in love with their culture and oh my goodness their weddings are beautiful. I also want to ride an elephant in the water. One day…one day…Bella 5

 

 

 

Want to see more of Bella? Follow her on Instagram @peace_love_puravida

New People, New Places

Beach in Tobago

Beach in Tobago

Hello FYM Readers!

Posing during the Hike in Asa Wright Nature Center

Posing during the Hike in Asa Wright Nature Center

 

As May brings in warm weather and summer fun, I know for a lot of us, the summer also comes with the excitement of new travels!

Family vacations, trips with friends, road trips, whatever! we all love the opportunity to escape for a while. So this month on the blog, the theme will be TRAVELLING!

Going to new places not only opens our eyes to different cultures and experiences, but it also shows us different sides of ourselves. By leaving our little bubbles and comfort zones, we learn about parts of ourselves that have never been tested before. My first opportunity to leave the country was to take a class on queer identity in Trinidad & Tobago. I applied for the class through UMD and went to Trinidad for 2 weeks with 10 other students. Needless to say, getting 3 credits to go to an island is more than ideal. Between class time, we went on field trips around Trinidad & Tobago to experience the people and culture. We visited a mas camp, ate doubles, attended a fete, hiked the rainforest at Asa Wright Nature Center, went downtown, went to Maracas Bay and ate shark and bake, and roamed Tobago.

Port of Spain

Port of Spain

Mas Camp designs for Carnival

Mas Camp designs for Carnival

Two weeks was hardly enough, it was my first time out of the country and away from my family for more than a few days. And aside from meeting other students and learning about the culture, I also learned how independent I could be. In the two weeks I had learned the different areas and figured out the public transit, knowing which maxis to take and which stops to look out for. Even though it was a short trip, I felt as if I was a different person coming home and I can’t wait to travel again.

This month, I’ll be featuring several fellow travelers whose passports are much more filled than mine! We’ll be discussing the countries they’ve visited, how they funded their trips, what they learned and so much more!

Shark and Bake at Maracas Bay

Shark and Bake at Maracas Bay

“Never Compromise Your Morals or Your Heart”

ZAYANI ROSE Zayani4

 

Age: 23
Occupation: Singer and Guitarist from the band SolStar
Hometown: Washington, DC

 

When did your love for music begin?

Florida Avenue Grill in DC was really live in the 70s. It still is really popular but not to the extent it was back then. There was a lot of live music and there isn’t much there anymore. Anyway, my mother used to sing at Florida Avenue Grill and a lot of other hot spots in DC. She also sings opera and has studied music theory. Fred Foss (jazz aficionado in DC) told me not many people can sing classical and jazz but my mother can and has a beautiful voice doing both. I love it. Growing up in Mama Rose’s house I heard a lot of jazz and tons of classical music. She sings in the Aria Club of Greater Washington and sings for several churches. She taught me piano at a young age. Later, I took up flute and played in the DC Youth Orchestra, and finally in high school I picked up guitar. So when I talk about my love for music it certainly starts with her and encompasses all of those musical experiences I had growing up. I have three older sisters and a brother who are musically inclined as well so I have those influences too. One of my sister’s brought home this world beat CD when I was 8 or 9 and it was the first time I’d heard bossa nova. I think that’s my favorite genre. I’d like to incorporate more of that style in our music.

 

When did you learn to play the guitar?

When I was 15…sophomore in high school, I saw the classical guitar lying underneath the piano. I begged my mother for lessons. I took lessons for about 1 or 2 months—enough to learn names of strings and basic chords. I started coming to lessons with songs and chords my teacher hadn’t shown me yet-he was shocked. I had always written poetry and lyrics but once I found out about chords—I really dove into songwriting. However, I wish I had stuck with his guitar lessons.

 

Zayani3Can you tell me about your band?

I met Mosi (violin), Prince (Bass), and Osim (Djembe) at a show at Spelman that I was helping host for student council. They were already a group and had recently chosen the name SolStar. The show we were putting together was called “A love Story” and they were the featured band. They did a beautiful job. Afterward we exchanged contact and linked up to practice. That first night of rehearsal was magic. We started performing around ATL. Our first show together was at the Five Spot. Later on we met Miso (performing artist) who began as our manager but later found a better fit in the group participating in the show doing dance, painting, and crowd interaction. We are a pretty unique band with a mission to spread love and raise the frequency. Our goal at our shows is to invite you into an experience.

Zayani1

What goes into starting and maintaining a band?

I remember posting on craigslist about starting a band–looking for dj, keys, drums, just whatever! Made a few contacts but nothingZayani2 came of it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look for long. SolStar showed up and showed out at Spelman, and we were able to connect afterward. It was easy with them because it seems that we just came together naturally. There are mutual interests and there’s respect in the group so it’s easier to work together. Maintaining a band is like any other relationship where honesty, respect, compassion, and other virtues are important. It can be hard but it’s very rewarding.

 

Who are some of your favorite artists?

My favorite musicians/artists right now are Thundercat, Janelle Monae, and Robert Glasper, Mosi, Kendrick, Chance the Rapper and Solstar. –My most recent albums I’ve purchased and listen to are from Eric Wright, Elle Varner, India Shawn, Marian Mereba, Brik Liam …  Of all time — Lauryn Hill, Sly and the Family Stone, MJ, John Mayer, Hendrix, John Scofield, Debussy, Pac and Nas.

 

Advice for other girls trying to get into music?

My advice for girls getting into music is respect yourself and your craft. Don’t compromise your morals and your heart to further you in your career. Accept constructive criticism and don’t forget to have fun.

 

Zayani5Where do you want to be in the future?

Musically, I see myself a more skilled musician, doing large shows with SolStar globally, and completing awesome albums!
From Zayani:

Hi readers! I hope you get a chance to check out our band’s music! You can find us at solstarmusic.com, solstarmusic on the gram, twitter, and like us on Facebook!

You can tweet me @zayanirose. I’m on insta @zuniverse_xo.

For booking, email info@solstarmusic.com

Following Your Passions

COURTNEY Courtney1

Age: 23
Occupation: Journalist
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD

Tell me about some of your past work experience. 

I got my first real taste of working in the journalism field fall semester my junior year of college when I interned for NBC Washington and worked with their web team under The Scene section. My time with NBC helped me to learn exactly what it takes to work in a newsroom environment covering local news for a major metropolitan area and it gave me insight on what goes into working as a writer for a news site, a reporter who goes out into the field and a news anchor who reports the stories that were gathered from the field. After my internship with NBC Washington, I linked up with a popular D.C. blog called “The Fab Empire,” where I served as their D.C. correspondent who covered any major entertainment and nightlife happenings in the city. With “The Fab Empire,” I was afforded the opportunity to interview several celebrities, cover red-carpet events such as The Bet Honors, and shine the spotlight on local charity events, philanthropists, and young movers and shakers in the D.C. area. After writing for “The Fab Empire” for over two years, I not only grew as a writer and improved my work portfolio, but I also gained wonderful mentors in Joi-Marie McKenzie, the blog’s creator, and Mia Fields-Hall who ran the Baltimore section of the blog. These work experiences then led me to interning with Russell Simmons site Global Grind in the summer of 2012, and then working with companies such as Black Enterprise and Cosmopolitan upon graduation in December 2012.

Courtney and singer Dawn Richards

Courtney and singer Dawn Richards

How did you find all of these great opportunities?

Working as a young journalist in this field has taught me that relationships will take you far and you can’t rely solely on your skills and past internships/work experiences to land you your next job. I’ve spent countless hours sitting behind a computer and applying to multiple jobs that I found on different job websites, but many of my journalism positions have come from a mentor or friend who told me about an opening job that was not advertised online. So with all of that said, be sure to get a mentor in whatever professional field you are interested in and be certain to maintain good relationships with peers because relationships are so important and they are a key component in growing and moving to the next level in your career. Once you land the interview for the job, be sure that you know everything there is to know about the company and if it’s for a journalism job be sure that you show off your writing clips if you’re in print or your reel if you’re in broadcast.

How did you narrow down which career you wanted to pursue?

I always knew that I wanted a career in the media field, but it wasn’t until my last semester sophomore year that I settled on

Courtney and actress Kerry Washington

Courtney and actress Kerry Washington

journalism. Initially going into college, I thought I wanted to major in business because it was considered safe and I knew there were a lot of professionals who worked in fields that weren’t directly related to their majors in college so I figured I’d play it safe and get a degree that could be used for anything and then somehow find my way into the media field. Towards the end of my sophomore year I met with my academic advisor to decide on my major and after talking to her about my interests, career goals and dream job as an editor she convinced me to go with my passion and major in journalism. Her exact words in that meeting were “You might as well go with your passion and be happy because no job or industry can really provide guaranteed security.”

Any tips for ladies who are looking for jobs? Do’s and Don’ts?

My tips for any young women going through the job hunting process is to first apply to the jobs that speak to your interest because your passion for a position will definitely speak through in your cover letter. Secondly, research the companies that you would like to work for and try to get the contact information for their human resources department so you can reach out to someone there and inquire about any opening positions. And lastly, throughout the whole process continue to build your network and reach out to people who have careers you admire and see if they’re open to meet for coffee to discuss how they got their job and see what career advice they have for anyone trying to break into the industry. My biggest DON’T during the whole job hunting process is to never give up. Competition is extremely tough in the job market and you may have to take an in-between job to hold you over until you land your ideal position, but in the meantime stay persistent and continue to go after the career that fulfills you.

Courtney interviewing singer Melanie Fiona

Courtney interviewing singer Melanie Fiona

What are your career goals in the future and how do you intend to attain them?

My future career goal is to just be recognized as a well-respected journalist who is always willing to lend a helping hand to the next generation of writers. I think it’s so important to reach back and help those coming behind you because I’ve been blessed to have people in my corner who reached back and helped push me to the next level so it’s only right that I pay it forward.

Want to connect with Courtney? Check out her instagram and twitter @ClassicalyCourt

the BE! Experience

BE! blog postHey Readers,

So I got an email from Ms. Tiffany Wright asking if I could shout out her business the BE! Experience. So I hopped on her website and absolutely loved what I found! As someone who’s on her own journey to wellness and health, I am very excited to learn about the BE! experience. Tiffany has created a business dedicated to empowerment and wellness! With a bachelor’s in sociology and psychology and a master’s in social work, Tiffany has become a dedicated wellness coach, helping people achieve their own goals and passions through mental, physical and spiritual health. The BE! Experience has several branches: The BE! Institute offers group classes on how to maintain positive thinking, a healthy self image and visualization power to reach our maximum potential.  Tiffany also offers coaching for Personal Wellness, Personal Life Enhancement and Community & Organization Enhancement.

For everyone in California, I suggest you get involved! For those who aren’t close by, check out her blog: http://www.livethebelife.com/be-empowered-the-blog.html. Also follow her instagram page @the_be_life

I found Tiffany’s message truly inspiring and uplifting, I support anyone promoting positivity, self-awareness and wellness.

Feel free to email me if you’d like me to feature your business on my instagram page and the blog! 🙂

All About the Business!

Hello FYM Project Readers!

As we enter a new month (and hopefully spring), I encourage all of us to start new projects! A friend told me that the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to working is that “it’s always better to work for yourself, than for somebody else.”

When it comes to the 9 to 5 grind, I know a lot of us see it as a necessary evil. We all got bills or we will soon…But have any of you ever considered pursuing another route? Ever had an idea or a passion that’s a hobby that you’re committed to? Ever considered turning it into a business?

Now I am not saying drop your day job, that’s a very romantic notion that not all of us can afford at the moment. But instead of just settling for that one paycheck, think of starting a small business of your own on the side. A little extra pocket money never hurt anybody. Like making jewelry or art, can you do hair, do you love writing? Make an Instagram or Facebook page advertising your goods or skills. Start making customized birthday cards for your friends and family. Start doing your roommates’ hair. Can you sew? Make an Etsy page advertising your handmade goods. Love to bake? Try to cater a friend’s birthday or baby shower. You can turn nearly any skill into a profit. Start small and see how it grows, you never know! With all of the social networks out there today, there are countless venues where you can advertise and network, its all about putting yourself out there!

And even if you don’t want to commit to starting your own business, find one of your passions and pursue a career in that. If your job involves something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Therefore, March on the blog will be dedicated to celebrating and connecting young black businesswomen! I’ll be featuring two ladies who’ve started their own clothing store, a woman whose made some big moves in journalism and overall tips when it comes resume building, the job search and job interviews.

Have a business you’d like me to feature? Email me and I’ll feature you on the instagram page and write a short blurb for the blog 🙂

All That Matters is Me and my Creativity

ALEXAAlexa

Age: 16
Grade: Sophomore in High School
Hometown: Mitchellville, MD

What originally drew you to writing?

I was originally drawn to writing in 8th grade when my literature teacher asked our class to submit something original. It could be anything from poetry, to a song, or a short story. I was skeptical at first because I had never even thought about writing something original. Later though, I found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Writing seemed to come easy to me. I usually like to write fictional stories about teenage adventures with strong female characters.

Why do you love to write?

I write so that I can escape my life, not because it is bad, but because I give my characters qualities and talents that I sometimes wish I had. Writing allows me to cope with not having certain abilities. It also allows me to enter a different world when I need to. If I get stressed then I will go write and suddenly all that matters is me and my creativity.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite authors are Rick Riordan, Ally Carter, and Cassandra Clare. I love these specific authors because they all write books about teenagers saving the world. I love reading about teenagers saving the world because it shows that we aren’t kids anymore and we can handle responsibility. They also have strong female characters that can take care of themselves and don’t need a male to save them all the time. I get tired of seeing girls so dependent on a guy when they really need to be dependent on themselves.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I can draw inspiration from anything. The trick for me is to be open to everything and not go looking for inspiration but allow it to come to me. I could be doing something completely random and suddenly have a new idea. But when that doesn’t work I have my favorite authors, television and movies, and the experiences of the people I interact with.

To read some of Alexa’s work, go to: http://www.wattpad.com/user/FindingMyVoice 

 

For the Love of Writing

Instead of going the traditional route for February and having the theme be

relationships or love, I’ve decided to focus on Black Female writers for this month! I’ve always had a love for reading and recently began writing more, mainly for my blog 🙂 Reading has always been a form of escapism for me. Any time of the day, I can immerse myself in an entirely different life or world if I wanted to. And writing has given me another form of expression; a way to vent while still keeping my thoughts to myself. As I’ve gotten older, through college but also through blogging, reading and writing has become a large part of my life.

So this month on the blog, I’ve decided to celebrate black women who write. Poetry, short stories, novels, fan fiction, everything! If you have work that you’d like me to post, email me at raven.best5@gmail.com 😀

The Myth of the “Strong Black Woman”

How many times have you heard about the “Strong Black Woman?” What do you

know about her?

She doesn’t take any mess. She’s independent. She sacrifices. She often puts the  needs of her loved ones before herself. She doesn’t always do what she wants to do,

For many of us, when we think of that title, we think of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends and ourselves. We claim that title with pride.

But is there ever a time when that title can cause more harm than good? When many of us see a ‘strong black woman’ we assume she is bulletproof, an impenetrable force that never falters. However, this also leads us to assume that strong black women are unemotional, that they are too busy and responsible to hurt or feel pain. And oftentimes, in an attempt to fulfill this image, many of us ignore our own feelings. Pushing away feelings and people instead of addressing them. Tell ourselves to “suck it up” and “move on.” Never let them see you cry. But strength is not the absence of emotion and showing a vulnerable side does not necessarily make you weak.

In fact, to me, those who can show their pain, speak on whatever flaws they have and express what upsets them but still have the perseverance to keep moving, are the strongest of all. For the many of us who strive to be a “strong black woman” and unfortunately put our needs and feelings on the wayside in the process, we are only selling ourselves short. Internalizing emotions causes unnecessary stress that takes a toll on our relationships and ourselves. Black women suffer the most from undiagnosed diseases, both mental and physical. Often because we have learned to suppress rather than to express and cope. You’d be surprised at what relief you’d feel when you allow yourself to release whatever tensions you’ve pent up inside of yourself.

There is nothing wrong with being strong, but not at the expense of emotional health. So, when you’re feeling depressed, angry, annoyed, frustrated, whatever; don’t bury it. Find an outlet, whether it be writing, running, cooking, drawing, dancing, a girls night or just a day to yourself; make the time and take care of yourself. Emotions are not a bad or irrational thing. Owning them, addressing them and learning to control them takes strength and time, but can be so beneficial and rewarding. Don’t fall for the myth of the strong black woman.